Celebrating 50 Years of… being cursed?

Like the princess from the Charles Perrault’s fairy tale – Sleeping Beauty – Nigeria had a wicked fairy gate-crash her “independence” ceremony and pretty much like the princess from Monsieur Perrault’s tales, a curse was placed. Sadly however, that is where the similarities end.

Unlike the princess in the famous story, where death was promised the princess when she reached adulthood, instant calamity was bestowed on Nigeria. Quite contrary to the princess’ lot, there was no good fairy to mitigate the impact of the curse on Nigeria, the death of the country if it would ever come was prophesied to be a long drawn-out process, with new depths of pain promised each time the country adjusts to its extreme sufferings. Whilst the princess was condemned to sleep for 100 years until her true love came around to wake her with a kiss; there no determined date was set by the horde of fairies, witches, wizards, gnomes, elves and other ethereal beings that graced the glorious occasion of Nigeria’s independence.

So from the onset, the infant was doomed and by the time she was 6 years old, she had been subjected to levels of horror that would make a jaded grandmother pale. Like many victims of extreme shock, her mind has gone numb, that she might protect herself from the psychological torture that has (and continues) to be inflicted on her. At 12, she was a already an alcoholic – a drunk reeking with crude oil – and had been half-decimated through a civil was and re-kitted as a loose patchwork of states, which would form the platform for looting on an unprecedented scale by the time she turned 35. And she has been drunk ever since.

The bizarre state of affairs in the country, which leaves little to be celebrated and much to be mourned, is one that confounds even all observers; both the foolish and the wise. In the midst of this sad setting the collection of village idiots, whom the aggrieved fairy gave the rights to rule the country, has decided to celebrate. The question that begs to be asked is “what is being celebrated?” Is it the plunder of all that the nation has ever been endowed with? Or the impending disintegration as we launch off a cliff without a parachute or a safety net? Is it the miasma of the 50-year old decomposition of both the physical and social infrastructure? Is it the ascendancy of a looting class into power that is being celebrated?

And the miserable pittance that our esteemed imps in agbada, isi-agu, bowler hats and babanriga want to set ablaze in this celebration of stupidity is just N9.6 billion. I am sure Mr. Goldman Sachs – the latest inductee into the Abuja hall of “lau-lau” spending – would be quick to say this is just £38.5million. That is true, but not when there are better uses to which this money can be spent; uses which are presently starved of funds. And whilst the over-plundered treasury is trying to come to terms with that, some recycled bin recently lifted its lid to request N55 billion to conduct an election in 6 months. All the while, the nation’s embodiment of incompetence and corruption – the Nigeria National Petroleum Company – has been said to be hovering between extreme illiquidity and insolvency. The amount involved by the way is a measly N1.4trillion (depending on whose narrative is right).

And we want to celebrate.

In a nation where the wrong people are celebrated, is it any wonder that the country itself is incapable of realising that there is nothing to be celebrated after fifty years of tottering around embarrassingly like a drunken grandmother in stilettos? A national honours list that would all but discourage any young person in the country from ever aspiring to anything by merit goes a long way to show who, really, we are as a people. In a nation where the gap-toothed one can evolve from a villain within 20 years to become a “celebrated” presidential aspirant, anything can indeed be celebrated.

Unlike the Sleeping Beauty – whose curse was defined, Nigeria’s malaise does not lend itself to a precise definition, let alone diagnosis. Where the ailments of the country shift colours and symptoms faster than a chameleon changes its complexion, it would take more of a gifted charlatan (if such a person exists) than a qualified physician to deliver the country.

If this ever gets to Dr. GEJ’s notice, please tell him, we the aggrieved citizens of Nigeria, do not take it personal with him and his cohorts; because we realise they are all operating under the spell of the aggrieved fairy from a Grimm’s fairy tale with no happy ending.

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